We are nearing the end of the year and usually that means silent exam halls, a packed library and the occasional (or frequent) sip of coffee. For the Faculty of Arts and Humanities however, May is a month-long celebration of student works known as The Collective at Coventry, a compilation of various final-year degree shows. Throughout the month, students create exhibitions, conferences, performances and screenings for everyone to enjoy.
For some of our students, this serves as an accumulation of two years’ worth of work and projects vary in size and detail, not to mention the catalogues and events organised by the various student committees. So while some are beginning to think of which beach they’d like to spend their summer on, for Arts and Humanities students this can be a very busy time.
But, just to prove that this work is worth it in the end, here are the stories of five alumni who have been there, done it and are now pursuing their dreams and goals!
Job: Professional TV Writer and Actor
Degree: Theatre and Professional Practice
I realised that in my third year I was going to treat it like I was already in industry, so when I left the course nothing really changed other than my location. My mind-set had already changed from my second year. As you are finishing your final module, think about what you want to do, what else you can do, what do you want to get yourself into? When I finished, I was already set and I had a hunger.
Course: BA (Hons) Photography
Career Milestone: Exhibiting at the Argentea Gallery (Birmingham) a few weeks after graduating
It might seem like it’s never ending and you’ll notice that all the work piles up, however, I advise any student going into their degree show to enjoy all the planning and process because, while it might seem like you don’t want to do it right now, believe me, it’s really worth it on that opening night. You have to balance your time in terms of university, project work, planning the degree show and work, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to some time out too, in order to keep a sane mind through this very rewarding process.
Find Nilupa on Instagram @nilupayasmin_
Job: Illustrator and Designer
Course: Illustration and Animation
Career Milestone: Designing the cover for the new Rolling Stones album
I would say that while the degree show is an important part of your time at university, it’s not career-defining. It’s a great way to announce yourself as a professional creative and may well even lead to a job or two, but that shouldn’t be your sole motivation. For me, the degree show was a celebration of how far I’d come as a creative, rather than a presentation of oneself as the finished article. My work changed hugely in the couple of years after graduation, so this shouldn’t be seen as the full stop before the start of the ‘big scary career’ sentence. Instead it should be treated as an ellipsis or a checkpoint in the course of a career that should always be evolving. Take some of that pressure off and enjoy the progress you’ve made so far!
Find Tobias on Instagram @tobiashall
Job: Freelance Illustrator
Course: Fine Art and Illustration
Career Milestone: Commissioned by Amnesty UK to illustrate for their ‘Write for Rights’ campaign
The degree show is a sigh of relief after all the stress of final year, so make sure you enjoy it. Afterwards, it’s all about the ‘what comes next’ which is the really scary/exciting part. Getting a career in the creative industries is hard but if you have the passion and the drive it will happen. You’ll make it happen. I took a bit of a winding route to get where I am today, through internships, social media jobs and even a Christmas tree decorating job while constantly grafting to build my illustration business. The best bits of advice which worked for me were:
- Go for things.
- Be confident (or fake it until you make it).
- Don’t tell anyone how young you are if you can help it.
- Every time something goes wrong just say to yourself, “it’s more material for my autobiography”.
- Challenge yourself to face your fears.
- Befriend everyone.
Find Hazel on Instagram @hazel.mead
Job: Creative Director, Artist and Content Creator
Graduation Year: 2007
Degree: BA Hons Graphic Design
Career Milestones: Working for top companies around the world on branding and advertising campaigns over the last 10 years. Becoming one of the top creative live streamers in the UK and now Twitter Live ambassador, doing a TEDx talk, launching my own art brand and many more.
My advice to students preparing for their upcoming degree shows, is to remember to always stay in control of your own ship. It can be overwhelming coming towards the end of your degree, with everyone producing their best work to show people from the industry and there can be a sense of pressure but at the end of the day your passion, ambition and calming personality is what will make your work shine. Take the time to reflect on what you’ve achieved, be proud of how far you’ve come and get excited for where you’ll be going next. Always remember, the biggest brand you’ll ever work on, is you! Good luck!
Find Amrit on Instagram @mrasingh